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This writer was questioned by a Blog reader about the cost differential between a Yelm Road’s cost to widen and repave vs. Bald Hill Rd. in Thurston County.

I spoke with the city’s Stephanie Ray, Project Manager, to ask her why the Coates Rd. project [Click Here, then click MINUTES, then August 12, 2008, & see 8B] costing $1.2 million for 3 tenths of a mile ($3.6 million a mile) is so expensive compared to the Bald Hill Rd. project costing about $860,000 a mile.

Ms. Ray made these points about the Coates Rd. Project:
– this is a commercial collector roadway in a city.
– right-of-way acquisition required. Ms. Ray said she thought such was not the case with Bald Hill Rd.
– underground utilities, which Bald Hill Rd. did not have.
– water lines (new PVC, sewer work).
– gas line relocation.
– street lighting.
– planter strips.
– sidewalks.
– A $550,000 grant was received from the state gas tax, which requires alot more detail than a non-granted job. The Bald Hill Rd. project received a Federal Grant, which is even more stringent.

I found Ms. Ray’s straight forward and enthusiastic responses to my questions to be refreshing from a City Hall that usually doesn’t even return my calls or emails.

Even after Ms. Ray’s explanations, this writer was amazed at the differences in costs: $860,000 for Bald Hill Rd. a mile vs. $3.6 + million a mile for Yelm’s Coates Rd., Yelm’s being 4 1/2 times greater!

“Visitors must use the east end access, formerly the exit, located across from Mountainview Road. THIS IS A PERMANENT ACCESS CHANGE AT YHS. Students must use center turn lane into the new access point. Westbound commuter traffic should keep right through the YHS school zone. Click the link for more project information,” quoting the city’s website.


On July 7th, I received an email from Cindy Teixeira, Community and Government Relations Coordinator saying that she forwarded my letter of that day to Mayor Harding for a response. To date, Mr. Harding never responded to my request for information on the location of funding for a Bypass. In questioning the WSDOT, they say they have no funding and to go back and ask the Mayor to support his assertions. I did-

Mayor Harding told the Yelm Chamber [of Commerce] Forum on Tuesday, April 8 that Yelm’s Bypass construction is set to begin in 2009 using left-over right-of-way acquisition funding of $9-10 million and was quoted in the March 14th edition of the Nisqually Valley News in a story titled “Bypass funding is back on track” saying in the text, ‘It is quite possible they could start phase one of the construction project in 2009.’

…in speaking to the Washington State Dept. of Transportation (WSDOT), they tell me to “Ask Mayor Harding to present where the $10M construction fund is located in their Transportation Budget?”


Mayor Harding,
The $9 million is a prediction by WSDOT of how much will be left over after all of the right-of-way is acquired for the project. Right-of-way acquisition has not been completed, so we may not know until next year (2009) the status of any leftover balance.

Can you update the community on where this stands?
Or, is your silence a confirmation of WSDOT’s claim that there is no left-over funding yet available?

While many in City Hall just wish I would go away, I am going to continue to speak out on issues that affect all of us in the Nisqually Valley.

Posted by Steve on August 30, 2008 at 6:47 am | Permalink

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